Lewis setter Rachel Ruedi’s remarkable 53 assists, 18 digs, 10 kills, and game-winning block avoid a potential upset.
The women’s volleyball squad of UW-Parkside (4-7) (20-10) hosted No. 13 Lewis University (11-0) (25-3) at DeSimone Gymnasium Tuesday evening which showcased a Great Lakes Valley Conference match-up.
Just one point away from shocking powerhouse LU, the Rangers performed admirably but failed to sustain such an effort falling in five sets for the second straight match (25-21) (21-25) (20-25) (25-13) (16-18).
Arguably the most productive start to any match of their season, the Rangers displayed an all-round execution and tenacity which vaulted them out to a 16-10 advantage in Game 1.
“We’ve typically been having confidence in spurts,” said Parkside head coach Michelle Benoit. “It was satisfying to see them finally put it together as a cohesive unit for the whole night.”
Setter’s Courtney Stack and Andrea Gust facilitated the onslaught racking up six assists apiece.
Courtesy of three miraculous digs by freshman Shannon Curtis and fundamental blocking by the front line, UWP forced Lewis into uncharacteristic errors.
Parkside sealed the deal 25-20 as rifling shots from sophomore right side’s Addie Kramer and Cassy Marx culminated into seven combined kills and a convincing victory.
Lewis’ performance in Game 2 better epitomized a top-notch program. A more potent offensive attack created difficulty for Parkside to successfully run their options.
The Rangers chipped away at Lewis’ comfortable lead bolstered by a couple of stuffs from Kramer and freshman Caroline Langer.
Five consecutive points by the Flyers iced the set win as they hung on 25-21 to notch up the match at one.
Plagued by mental mistakes, Parkside lacked the same intensity and effectiveness that made them so lethal in the opening set.
Trailing 9-15, the Rangers were revitalized by Stack’s nine assists and five digs which fueled a 6-0 run to seize the lead.
13 assists, three kills, and three digs by Ruedi propelled LU to secure the Game 4 triumph 25-20.
“In this conference you can’t underestimate anyone,” assured Ruedi. “We made a bunch of mistakes but it feels really good to overcome them against a great team.”
Junior middle blocker Tami Gleason was exceptional in the loss posting three kills, three digs, and three blocks for the Rangers.
With their backs against the wall, Parkside responded with urgency leaping out to an 18-10 advantage to open up Game 4. Excellent penetration up at the net led by senior middle blocker Jennifer Johnson transpired in four team blocks compared to none by LU.
Junior Cassie Wilkens’ menacing block capped off the 25-13 Game 4 blowout as the Rangers forced a fifth set for the second straight match.
Langer chipped in with four digs, two kills, and superb serving adding two aces.
In Game 5, more energy from Johnson attacking the net helped stifle Lewis’ early momentum to notch up the score at 8.
With the Flyers on the verge of capturing the win, Langer rocketed a shot down the line to tie the set at 14. Trading points, a crisp spike by Wilkens failed to salvage the match as Ruedi’s block clinched the epic victory preserving Lewis’ undefeated record in the conference.
Wilkens completed her evening with 14 digs and seven kills. Kramer hammered out 13 kills and added two blocks.
Lewis’ Ashlee Lindish did her part as defensive specialist chalking up 25 digs and five assists.
Stack and Gust combined for 49 assists and 21 digs for the evening. Langer tallied ten digs, nine kills, four blocks, and three service aces.
Gleason was responsible for 13 kills, six blocks, and shoveling out 11 digs.
The Rangers get set for their road finale as they travel to St. Louis, Missouri for a GLVC bout Friday, Oct. 30 at Maryville University hitting off at 7 pm. The following weekend the squad returns home for their final two home games hosting Rockhurst University (Parent’s Night) on Friday and Drury University (Senior Night) on Saturday.
“The ladies understand they can compete with even the top talent in the country,” said Benoit. “That’s a great step for the future of the program.”